Off The Record

by AVA News Service, July 13, 2011

MAN BEATER of the week, a wobbler. Ms. Brandy Ilar, 24, 5'2 and 175, stands charged with corporal injury to a spouse but assault with a deadly weapon, the weapon being a ceramic plate. The sequence of events is not clear, but Ms. Ilar busted her man in the face with the plate which left him with a cut up mug and a stab wound to his chest. How he got the stab wound remains a mystery. But someone, not identified as to gender, had also punched Ms. Ilar and quickly fled the premises. The injuries sustained by the boy friend, identified as Joshua Pollard, 26, were serious enough to get him medi-choppered outta here for treatment.

I WAS MUCH ENCOURAGED at the news that the state fund from which new courthouses are financed has been whacked by $310 million. That may mean the certain-to-be ghastly structure planned for Mendocino County may be put on hold, permanent hold, I hope, and I hope for permanent hold because the thing is going to be a major eyesore. Its defenders, and beyond local judges there seem to be exactly none of them, keep saying, "But you don't understand. It will be built by the award-winning Owings, Skidmore and Blah Blah firm." Is there an organized group of Americans anywhere in the land, from T-Ball on up, who haven't won awards? Crimeny, I even won one once. I defy anyone to go on-line, look at the public buildings these people have erected over the last fifty years then come back to me and say, "We need one of these beauties in downtown Ukiah." We don't need a new Courthouse period. It's simply not justified, especially at a time of an imploding economy. If the proposed structure were not almost certain to be, as a friend put it, "the Savings Bank with windows," people generally might be more enthusiastic. But we're talking bunker when all the so-called safety concerns are factored in.

SO, WHAT'S YOUR DESIGN suggestion Mr. Negative? Mr. Neg suggests a Mission-style adobe, a back-to-the-future design both functional and pleasing to the eye.

MOVE OVER JIMMY RICKLE! Supervisors Hamburg and Smith appear every Friday night on Ukiah's public access television channel, and why does this strike me as medium hilarious?

AN OREGON READER sends along a newspaper story announcing that the state of Washington has eliminated all tourism marketing. Here in Mendo, the Supes can't bring themselves to save the taxpayers $400,000 by wiping out the so-called Promotional Alliance. It's not as if the wineries can't fund their own advertising, and it's not as if the six million people of the Greater Bay Area don't know we're here.

SUPERVISOR KENDALL SMITH'S dogged efforts to prevent consolidation of county offices in Fort Bragg have failed. The County has been paying more than $26,000 a month to lease a building from Dominic Affinito. For that kind of money, the County could have bought the building two or three times over.

THE COAST offices of Environmental Health and Planning and Building will move from the County-owned Avila Center to a County-owned building on Fir Street, a move that should be completed by this week. The Health and Human Services (HHS) employees will be moved from the Affinito building across the street into the Avila Center.

SUPERVISOR SMITH had helped draft a letter and a petition in opposition to the move because some employees are concerned that they'll have less cubicle space. If your world is cubed, you fight for every square centimeter.

THE PETITION DRIVE against the move out of Affinito's spacious barn-like structure failed because only a handful of County employees were willing to sign on. Smith and the organizers were hoping that peer pressure would force full participation. But the saner heads among the group (almost anyone other than Smith) realized that the County needs to save money and besides, the decision had already been made. The move will also reduce costs for heating, cooling, and maintaining half empty buildings. Most employees realize that reducing overhead costs is preferable to more layoffs and wage cuts. And every dollar spent on unnecessary lease payments is a dollar not spent on services.

SMITH'S MOTIVATION for opposing the move is something of a mystery. The move is clearly in the interest of the County. Instead of paying a share of cost for the Affinito building, once the move into the county owned Avila Center is complete, the County will be able to collect rent from the state, as well as have the state share in the cost of maintaining and repairing the building. It's a no brainer for everyone but Smith; converting a net cost into net revenue is in the public interest of the County.

ONLY JOHN PINCHES opposed the original deal with Affinito, with its sweetheart lease payments and annual automatic increases. Affinito stands to be stuck with a big empty building and no tenants. Which apparently is why Supervisor Smith, in addition to resisting the move, was also pushing - get this - that the County buy the building from Affinito!

A READER WRITES:" I agree that Dan Gjerde, like Kendall Smith, is a loyal Democrat, but there the comparison ends. Dan Gjerde is honest and ethical, two qualities that few will associate with Smith. I can understand that the 15 or so self-anointed members of the inner circle of local Dems might lean to Smith based on gender and sexual politics, Smith being a gay woman, but I don't think the rank and file will be so easily swayed. Most people I talk to, and I talk mostly to Democrats, will not vote for Smith."

HARVEY READING fleshes it out: "Sounds like Mendolib, coast branch, is right in line with pseudoliberalism throughout the country: a bunch of authoritarian, wealth-serving, self-entitled yuppies who consider themselves above the law. If there was (screw the upper-class subjunctive) such a thing as justice in this country, the lady supe would at the very least have had a day in court rather than simply being allowed to repay the stolen funds, interest free. And then, getting support for reelection … good god. When is the Working Class gonna fight back, in a serious way?"

AMEN, BRO. That's Mendo lib to a tee-hee. A huge prob with the local lib elite is that while a solid half of the County's voters are genuinely progressive on the big issues — war and peace, single payer, support for unions, and so on, at election time we're all at the mercy of a small cadre of local wine and brie Democratic Party activists — Joe Wildman, Judge David Nelson, Richard Shoemaker, Jim Mastin, Val Muchowski, Rachel Binah, and a few more affiliated middle-of-the-road extremists. This claque of Obama maniacs will again support the disastrous Obama regime in 2014. Count on it. And they'd die for Mike Thompson. And Wes Chesbro. And Noreen Evans. And Kendall Smith. They decide for the rest of us who will be our 4th and 5th District supervisor candidates, and to say they've chosen badly over the years radically understates the case. Naturally, with their unerring political death instinct, they're busily encouraging Smith to run again and discouraging the much more capable Dan Gjerde from not running against her.

WE ASSESS the supervisors this way, subject to abrupt revision, of course: Supervisors McCowen, Brown and Pinches conscientiously go about their responsibilities which, some of us understand, are supposed to be non-partisan and conducted in the best interests of all the people of the county. We emphatically disagree with these three supervisors on inland water issues, and we should also point out that we did not support McCowen for supervisor. We've also been critical of the Farm Bureau for many years, and it's from the Farm Bureau's grisly embrace that Carrie Brown was partially freed to become a supervisor. We've also often disagreed with Gentleman John Pinches on many issues, not that disagreement has ever compelled either him or Brown or McCowen to stop talking to us.

SUPERVISOR HAMBURG? So far, he's pretty much a repeat of Colfax, albeit a gentler, kinder Colfax. Why he's joined the disastrous Fort Bragg supervisor, Kendall Smith, to comprise what they seem to think is some kind of noble two-person "progressive" opposition to their three "reactionary" colleagues, is downright mysterious. Hamburg, unlike the petulant and ill-equipped Colfax and the marginally competent Smith, has not severed communications and remains accessible. We half-expected that Hamburg, once elected supervisor, might quickly become bored with the job. As a Congressman, and later as a Green candidate for Governor, Hamburg's political interests have always been the big ticket glamour issues, not the nuts and bolts of keeping an outback county fiscally afloat, which his three colleagues have doggedly and intelligently tried to do. Unlike Colfax, Hamburg is always pleasant and open to discussion, but at vote time by strapping himself to the wacky (and dishonest) Smith while distancing himself from his three fellow supervisors, Hamburg isn't doing much for the overall good of Mendocino County. And it's clear to us that Hamburg is not paying close attention to the nuts and bolts issues that managing the County necessarily requires.

HANK SIMS WRITES: “Do you live in the hills? You’re probably getting a new bill from the State. Rural landowners in the state of California will soon be levied with a $150-per-building fee for fire protection, thanks to a budget appropriation bill that Gov. Jerry Brown just signed into law. The bill, authored by Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield (D-San Fernando Valley), aims to close some of the state budget shortfall by directly charging those who live in areas where CalFire — the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection — is the responsible firefighting agency. “As a result of population increases and urban development in state responsibility areas in recent decades, there has been a significant increase in state costs associated with fire protection in state wildland areas,” Brown wrote in a signing statement. “This bill recognizes that a portion of the costs borne by the state for wildland fire prevention and protection services should be funded by landowners in these areas.” Brown called upon the legislature to develop “clean-up” legislation regarding the bill — apparently to close suspected loopholes. Assm. Wes Chesbro (D-Arcata) and Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) both voted in favor of the appropriation.”

AS BEST we can tell by looking at the CalFire State Responsibility Area map for Mendocino County, all of Anderson Valley is considered a State Responsibility Area (for wildland fires, at least), even though the Community Services District’s responsibility area overlaps it in the lower elevations. So whether the fee will apply to the areas already covered by the CSD assessment, we don’t know at this point. More to come.

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